Finch heroics seals victory for Bushrangers
Aaron Finch scored an unbeaten 93 to seal a thrilling 7 wicket victory over the Central Stags which keep their hopes of reaching the Twenty20 Champions League semi finals alive.
Finch remained at the crease throughout the run chase scoring 11 fours and 3 sixes during a match winning innings which tipped the balance of the game after the Stags had restricted the Bushrangers during the first half of the reply.
Despite missing Brad Hodge who was ruled out of the game with a virus the Bushrangers got off to a good start in their attempts to chase down the victory target of 166 set by the Stags.
Ron Quiney and new opening partner Aaron Finch enjoyed an opening stand of 40 thanks in part to some pretty ordinary fielding from the Stags who gave the openers a couple let offs including a no ball which saw Finch caught at mid-off.
Quiney was also dropped in the 4th over before the Stags finally made a breakthrough thanks to Seth Rance who picked up Quiney’s wicket an over later thanks to Michael Mason regulation catch at short fine leg.
Matthew Wade (9) quickly followed after he was run out by Brendon Diamanti to leave the Bushrangers 49-2 with 7 overs completed in a most win game for the defending KFC Big Bash champs.
The loss of Wade brought David Hussey to the crease with the Bushrangers in need of another classic innings from their big hitting skipper; but the 33 year old struggled with the bat facing 17 deliveries during a scratchy innings of 18 which was brought to an end by Doug Bracewell in the 14th over.
Although it was a setback the Bushrangers still had Finch at the crease who had recorded a well deserved half century but they still needed another 66 runs from just 39 more deliveries.
Finch was joined at the crease by all rounder Andrew McDonald and the pair quickly contributed 18 runs to the total to set up a thrilling finish with 48 more runs needed from the final 4 overs.
With the tension building the Stags bowlers started to bowl poorly with Rance practically ineffective conceding 12 runs in the 17th over which included a 6 off his finally delivery to leave the Bushrangers needing another 25 runs.
With 12 deliveries to go the game was now fully in the balance and Stags cause wasn’t helped by Mason conceding another six from his first delivery of the penultimate over. The Bushrangers added another 7 runs to set up a thrilling final over.
With 12 runs needed Bracewell was given the responsibility of bowling the final over but he conceded a boundary from his first delivery to put the Bushrangers in control of the game.
He responded perfectly by conceding just 2 runs from his next two deliveries but Finch (93) hit back smashing a full length ball over the long-on boundary to seal an amazing victory.
His partnership of 66 with McDonald (18) rescued the Bushrangers who were on the verge of crashing out of the tournament after reaching last years semi finals.
Having won the toss the Stags decided to bat first but Jamie How would have regretted his decision after Peter Siddle tore through the top order picking up two wickets in the first over to leave the bewildered Stags 2-3.
Siddle, who had missed the Bushrangers opening game struck with the second delivery of the game to remove Peter Ingram (0) who clipped a length ball into the hands of John Hastings at square-leg.
Having scored two runs off the next delivery Tim Weston (2) quickly followed after he edged another length delivery from Siddle into the hands of Andrew McDonald at second slip.
Having seen his side lose two early wickets How responded by dispatching Siddle for a six over long-on to kick start the Stags innings. Despite this the Stags found scoring hard on a wicket witch suited the Bushrangers bowlers.
Matthew Sinclair, who came to the crease after the wicket of Weston fell found the conditions tough. The 34 year old faced 21 deliveries, scoring just 14 runs before his innings was ended by Hastings.
The loss of Sinclair left the Stags 30-3 after 5.3 overs but the arrival of George Worker gave the Kiwis fresh hope of turning the game around as he forged a 4th wicket partnership of 53 with How which gave the batting team a foundation to push on.
With the pair’s partnership well established Worker tried to slog Bryce McGain over mid-wicket but his shot fell short of the boundary to allow Ryan Carters to take an easy catch.
Despite the loss of Worker, How continued his fine innings bringing up a well deserved half century in the 15th over but despite his presence at the crease the Stags were still struggerling with the score 108-4.
With only four overs to go the Stags needed a big over to give their bowlers a total they would be able to defend and the skipper once again delivered in the 18th over.
Having already conceded a six off his first delivery, Hastings was punished by How after he got on strike smashing 5 boundaries in succession including off a no ball which lifted the Stags to 143-4.
Having watched his skipper launch a counter attack in the previous over Brendon Diamanti (19) dispatched Clint McKay for a six at the start of the next over but his cameo innings was ended after he sliced McKay’s next delivery into the hands of Siddle at third man.
The Stags didn’t let the loss of Diamanti ruin their comeback with Kieran Noema-Barnett picking up the gauntlet to smash 13 runs from just 7 deliveries including a six off the final balll of the game bowled by Dirk Nannes.